Former WI Gov. Scott Walker takes on WA teachers union, pay-per-mile
Visiting the Evergreen State for the Washington Policy Center Solutions Summit, former Wisconsin Governor and 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker hopped on the Dori Monson Show Tuesday to analyze Washington’s biggest political issues, from the demands of the teachers union to Gov. Jay Inslee’s tax increases.
Teachers union conflicts
During his two terms as governor, Walker went through battles with his state’s teachers union that were as fiery as the teacher strikes around Washington last year.
“With the unions, you’re never going to get to a point where they say, ‘OK, that’s enough,'” he said, noting that this is a trend around the country. “And that’s because the union bosses are the ones calling the shots.”
“Accountability in the classroom” is what he sees as the key to a better future for education, but he believes the teachers union is terrified of a system where pay is based on performance and success, rather than seniority.
He pointed to one teacher who was named Wisconsin’s Outstanding New English Teacher of the Year several years ago. However, during a similar school budget crisis to Washington, districts had to make staff cuts to pay raises. That meant that, with the union’s last-on/first-off policy, this newer, younger teacher was fired.
“If you really want to have schools and government that are more effective, more efficient, and more accountable to the public, you’ve got to have the public be able to have a say in this, and not the union leadership be the ones driving it,” Walker said.
Wisconsin also has in common with Washington that it, too, considered a system that would charge drivers based on how many miles they drive. Washington’s ‘”test drive” of a pay-per-mile system, known as the road usage pilot project, ended a few months ago; a report on the trial run is currently being prepared for the Legislature.
While he doesn’t “mind the ideas of user fees as people use things,” he has concerns about the possible privacy invasion that could come with having a tracking device in your car.
Additionally, he is skeptical of politicians’ claims that increasing one revenue source will really make another go down — in this case, replacing gas taxes with a pay-per-mile system.
“Anytime a liberal says they’re going to up one revenue source to lower another, what happens is they both end up going [up],” he said. “And that’s where you’ve got to be very, very suspicious.”
Cutting taxes does not have to rob the state government of much-needed revenue, according to Walker’s record.
“We cut taxes by more than $8 billion — even got entirely rid of the state’s portion of the property taxes — and every year I [was] in office, we’ve had a surplus. Why?” he said. “Because when you put more money back in the hands of the hardworking people, particularly the small businesses that employ them, the economy grows, wages go up, more people working, they pay more in — revenues go up.”
He criticizes the policies Gov. Inslee, who has gained something of a reputation as tax-happy, as well as any politician who breaks promises to lower taxes.
“Unless someone is committed to really the free market and to standing up to reduced spending … it’s going to be more spending, and more taxes and revenues out of the pockets of the everyday working people,” Walker said.
Dori asked why, if Walker’s two terms were so successful in bringing in revenue and enacting reforms, he lost his run for a third term last year.
“I may have reformed myself out of a job,” Walker joked.
Really, he said, the reason lies with “the two Ms — Madison and marijuana.” Madison, Wisconsin’s capital, is “to the Left of Stalingrad,” he said. What’s more, a marijuana legalization referendum on the ballot brought more liberals out than normal, in particular young people, which tipped the scales against him.
Looking at 2020
Walker, who has a bit of experience with a presidential campaign, believes Trump can win in 2020, if he takes a few key actions.
“He’s got to define why the tax cuts actually work, which he hasn’t does thus far — even though they do, most people don’t know it,” he said. “And he’s going to have to define, whether it’s Bernie or Biden or whomever, that they embrace socialism; he’s going to have to make the case over and over again that socialism is failing around the world, he’s going to have to burn that point in.”
As for who will face off against Trump, Walker is betting on Bernie Sanders.
“Biden may be the most moderate of the bunch, and I think in today’s Democrat Party, that is a crime far too great for most of those primary voters,” he said. “They want someone who is as far Left as they can get … and that puts Bernie Sanders in the spot to get the nomination.”
Additionally, he observed, “voters appreciate” that Sanders is “authentic.”
“We’re going to have to work hard to counter that,” he said.
- Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.